Internationalized Domain Names Frequently Asked Questions What is an IDN? An IDN, or “internationalized domain name,” is an Internet domain name that is in non-Latin characters, such as those used in the Russian, Arabic, or Chinese languages. What is the history of IDNs? IDNs have been used since 2001 at the “second level” of an Internet name—the portion before the last dot. But once an Internet user got to the final portion of a domain name—the top-level domain (TLD) that comes after the final dot, such as .COM, .NET, or .ORG, they had to switch to Latin characters because of technical limitations. Now, after years of work globally, including work within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and ICANN, a global system for the use of other scripts in domain names has been designed and tested, and the first IDNs for countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Egypt and others have been entered into the DNS Root Zone. Why are they important? Using IDNs for the entire Internet domain is vital in making the Internet addressing system more user-friendly for global users, regardless of where they live or what language they speak. What will be the impact of IDNs? IDNs are expected to increase the number of global Internet users – a core mission of ICANN. An estimated 4.9 billion people are currently not online. The use of IDNs should help lower that number. How is ICANN handling the rollout of IDNs? In stages. Right now IDNs will only be allowed on a limited basis involving country code top- level domains, which are the designators at the end of an address name, such as . рф (.rf in Cyrillic denoting “Russian Federation”). Eventually, the use of IDNs will be vastly expanded to all types of Internet address names. How many countries have applied for IDNs? So far (as of 28 February 2011) 34 countries and territories representing 22 different languages have applied for IDN country code top-level domains and that number is constantly growing. A complete list can be found on ICANN’s web site at http: http://icann.org/en/topics/idn/fast- track/string-evaluation-completion-en.htm. Where can I find more information on internationalized domain names? By going to this page on ICANN’s site: http://icann.org/en/topics/idn/.
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